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22 December 2011 @ 08:50 pm
(sherlock holmes) a failed experiment  
Title: A Failed Experiment
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes, Ritchie!verse
Characters/Pairing: Holmes/Watson
Spoilers: A Game of Shadows
Prompt: Several prompts appeared at the shkinkmeme requesting a continuation of the events at the gypsy camp. Two people asked for a first time fic, and one requested Watson not remember in the morning.
Summary: "The drunken haze of gypsy moonshine accompanied by frenzied music and dancing can be a dangerous combination."

Sherlock Holmes was nothing if not protective of his dear friend and colleague. He had warned him about the drinking. And the dancing. Yet he was fully aware that the good doctor would not adhere to his advice. And nor did he, for promptly after dispensing it, he proceeded to drain the contents of Simza’s bottle. Smoother going down than embalming fluid, its bold flavour betrayed its bucolic ingredients. As he cast aside the empty bottle, he envisioned the alcohol traversing through his system, anticipating the pleasingly peculiar feeling as it began to inhibit the amount of oxygen to his brain.

He was in the midst of his most pressing case yet, one that’s dangers suggested he would not emerge unscathed or even at all. The fact that he had Watson at his side, just as it had always been in the best of times, was both a blessing and a curse to his pursuit of his dangerous adversity. Watson was ever the force that kept him grounded. Without him, he was an untethered kite, thrashing against the wind, fighting against the depths of his own mind and sanity. And with him here, within his sights, he worried not for the harm that may befall him at the hands of dark forces. For as long as there was any breath in his body, he would stand between Watson and danger.

And yet that was the very reason Holmes ought to banish his friend at this important juncture. He needed to purge his life from distraction, those mundane human emotions and experiences that clouded his judgment and his mind’s ability to perform at its highest potential. There had never been room for such disruptions in his life unless they served to solve a case or were a puzzle in themselves, as Irene Adler had always been. Feelings were a danger, and where Watson was concerned, they were never fully out of the picture. His unmistakable fondness for the man was evident to all who knew him, but the true depth of his attachment was known only to Professor Moriarty. And it was the workings of that skilled, maniacal mind which put Watson’s life in jeopardy.

Sobriety would be essential at a time such as this. And yet, surrounded by the warmth of the gypsy camp, the strategy for the day ahead already determined, and the fingers of skilled musicians producing pleasing strains, Holmes allowed himself to partake of the gypsies’ eau de vie, and surrendered to the beckoning sounds of the campfire circle outside.

As he had supposed, Watson had found the inebriants. What Holmes had not anticipated, however, was that it would result in the doctor succumbing to the rhythm of the gypsies’ instrumentation. The smile on his face indicated that he was quite at ease, and yet his body was engaged in the unmistakable act of dance. Holmes was quite affronted by this, as he had on several occasions attempted to coax his friend to dance for various purposes. Watson had always declined, despite the fact that it had been Holmes who was his teacher early on in their acquaintance, the result of an evening of too much brandy. And yet here was the reluctant dancer now, performing some sort of jig he was obviously in the process of learning.

Holmes positioned his body against some crates, his arms pulled across his chest to express the offence he felt further than the disdainful expression he wore on his face. To his annoyance, Watson took no notice of him, and before long, the infectious melodies were too much for the musician to bear. And as the alcohol he had imbibed began to do its work, foot tapping and head nodding transformed into an unstoppable urge to dance. All arguments for sense and logic were rejected as Holmes allowed his feet to convey him into the host of musicians and their musically-effected patrons.

The drunken haze of gypsy moonshine accompanied by frenzied music and dancing can be a dangerous combination, and so Holmes was not surprised when he suddenly found himself at the centre of a ring of dancers, arm in arm with a man wearing Watson’s hideous homemade scarf, without the slightest recollection of the events leading up to that point. Or why, he noticed, he had shed an important amount of clothing.

He glanced across the cavorting swarm to see the good doctor being hoisted upon the shoulders of the dancers, his head lulled back and his mouth agape in laughter that reached all the way over to Holmes and infected him as well. It had a sobering reaction, however, and for a moment, the world stood still, as it did when he was scrutinizing a crime scene. But his focus was on Watson, his friend and colleague who had followed him once more unto the breach, reluctantly, or so he had wanted Holmes to think. But there were several tells that Holmes had noticed which told him that this was exactly where Watson wanted to be, that he had been right all those years ago when he supposed Watson to be a man of action.

The pair were two sides of the same coin, each one needing the other to prevail—one man whose mind rebelled at stagnation and the other who wilted at inaction. Holmes required Watson to keep him human, to pull him back from the edges of mania and obsession, while he knew Watson’s very constitution demanded the action he had pursued in his youth as a soldier. Domesticity, a wife and family, these were things Watson thought he needed, what society dictated he needed, not what his mind and body yearned for. Holmes could see this and was torn between saving Watson from himself or pushing him toward what the doctor so desperately wanted.

And then, of course, there were Holmes’ own needs, the irritatingly human needs he tried to suppress. Those boring, mundane distractions which kept him from his true purpose—solving the puzzles that the average man found impossible to unravel. Yet here, with the final moves of this game of shadows appearing on the horizon, Holmes found himself entirely fixed upon his dear friend, who was somehow clad only in braces, trousers, and one boot, his countenance entirely free of the contempt, annoyance, and exasperation that had lately been displayed for Holmes’ benefit. The sight triggered something in Holmes that set the world moving again but at a feverish pace. His balance faltered, and he stumbled outside of the musical circle, clutching a tree for support as he waited for the world to be righted.

Instead, as the gypsy music crescendoed into a frenzied ending, a warm body suddenly landed beside him in a roar of music and mirth. He turned his head to observe Watson, a deliriously contented smile turning the ends of his moustache upward. A hand appeared on the small of Holmes’ back as Watson leaned in closely, his breath caught in his throat from exertions and laughter. “I was unable to heed your warnings, old boy.” He hooked his thumbs behind the fabric of his braces and bobbled a bit, oblivious to his missing shirt. “I have drunk and I have danced.” He pointed a wobbling finger at his companion, narrowing his blue eyes. “And so have you.”

“Dancing is a very generous term for what you were doing,” Holmes replied with a sympathetic shake of his head. He reached up to where his jacket pocket would have contained his pipe, but was quickly reminded that the coat had disappeared with his cognizance of the night’s activities. With a sigh of exasperation, he began scanning the camp, looking for clues that might unravel the mystery of the night’s events. His cursory overview revealed nothing, and as he turned his attention back to Watson, he found that Watson’s eyes were still focused on him, but had narrowed slightly in obvious scrutiny.

“What is it, Watson?” Holmes asked in amusement. “You are thinking so loudly you threaten to drown out the music.”

Watson stepped forward on unstable legs and jabbed the index finger of his right hand into Holmes’ chest. “How is it possible that no amount intoxicants is enough to incapacitate you. I have seen you introduce any number of things that would kill an ordinary man, and yet you remain lucid. Rather, you seem to thrive. From a medical perspective, you are an anomaly.”

“From every perspective, I am an anomaly, my dear man,” Holmes quipped. He closed the distance between them so as to inspect the other man more closely. “You, however, are as pedestrian as they come. Pupils dilated. Decreased inhibition. Increased perspiration. Slight sensory-motor impairment. The simple fact that there is a smile on your face while total chaos reigns around you is indicative of—”

Watson made to crack Holmes over the head with his cane, but he too discovered his perpetual possession to be missing and the force of his movement caused him to topple to the ground.

Holmes stepped over the body of his fallen comrade with an air of conceit, bending over to remark, “My friend, you are the very image of refinement this evening.”

Watson responded by using his good leg to take Holmes’ feet out from under him, sending the shorter man crashing down onto his chest.

“Point taken,” Holmes answered when he had found his breath again.

The sudden close proximity of the two men permitted Watson to observe the great detective in turn. He noted that the pupils of Holmes’ eyes—the colour of rusted iron—
were as blown as his own, and became suddenly aware that he was holding his breath. Holmes stared back at the man he was sprawled upon as if laying on a cushion, and an uneasy tension began to surface, filling his body with a burning heat that coursed to every extremity. Before it became unbearable, Holmes clambered to his feet in a manner that betrayed the grace with which he usually moved. Clearing his throat, he held his hand out to Watson. “Come, dingy bird.”

The doctor righted himself with Holmes’ assistance, but seemed intent on maintaining his previous nearness to the man. His composure, which had formerly been so jovial only moments before, took on an air of gravity that Holmes was unable to decipher. For a gypsy violinist interrupted the moment, breaking in between the two men with the fiddle on his chin and a cheeky grin spread wide across his face. Watson’s attention turned to the musician who was wearing an intricately patterned silk scarf the colour of the campfire. The doctor’s hands reached out with the speed and grace of a pickpocket and pulled the scarf from the gypsy’s neck. The fiddler gave the two men a knowing grin as he pivoted and disappeared into the still-dancing crowd.

Holmes felt the edges of his vision go hazy, and the heart within his breast beat uncharacteristically fast as Watson turned toward him with the scarf in his hand. He draped the scarf over Holmes’ neck and pulled him toward the river and away from the lights of the camp like a bridled horse. Surprised at this turn of events, Holmes held his tongue and waited for them to play out.

Once secluded from eyes of the gypsy camp, Watson’s hand dropped and the scarf fell gracefully against Holmes’ chest. Holmes fingered its delicate surface briefly before placing his hands behind his back. “I do hope you do not expect me to instruct you on how better to hold your liquor. It’s rather too late for that. Besides your ability to transform from respectable gentlemen to drunken buffoon and back again is one of your more charming traits.” The final word hitched a bit in his throat, for as he turned around, he discovered John Watson mere inches away from him and standing as still as a man in camouflage.

“Watson,” Holmes breathed, “What are you playing at?”

Without having seemed to move at all, Watson’s lips were nearly touching Holmes’. When he spoke, his voice low and almost tangibly heavy, the heat from his breath warmed the skin of Holmes’ dry lips. “You know your methods, Holmes. Use them.”

Holmes would have laughed were it not for the unmistakable seriousness of Watson’s expression. The gears of the detective’s machine-like mind whirred in his head, but its output was nil, and he suddenly felt as naked as Watson’s bare chest. He licked his lips, and Watson’s breath felt cool against them. When he said nothing, Watson placed a hand at Holmes’ waist, slowly letting it rise for every moment he remained silent, until finally, it was firmly entangled in his hair. He tugged back brusquely and the other man’s head jerked backward with the motion, fully exposing his wet lips.

“Watson, stop this foolishness,” Holmes spoke with authority, but his eyes clamped shut as arousal unmistakably coursed through his veins like a seven per cent solution. Damnable human sensations. He tried to suppress the chemical reaction of sexual attraction that had been initiated, but his full mental faculties seemed to have fled with his vest and jacket.

Watson reeled slightly, but his grasp on the other man’s unkempt hair remained firm. “This is what you want, is it not?” Watson spoke determinedly over Holmes’ lips. He let his fingers slip through Holmes’ hair but did not back away. “This is why you neglected my stag party. Why you abscond with my clothing. Why you disguise yourself as a beggar and a courier and a carriage driver to loiter outside my rooms at Cavendish Place.”

Holmes’ eyes flew open at that last statement of fact, but his mouth would not cooperate with his brain to object. Instead, he stood silently before his friend, struck dumb by his brazen behaviour.

A hoarse laugh burst from Watson’s mouth that would have sounded positively villainous if it were not for the obvious warmth of his face or the degree to which his blue eyes blazoned like blue carbuncles in the moonlight. “The verbose Sherlock Holmes, lost for words at last.” He raised his hands to the other man’s shoulders, his body swaying to an internal rhythm. “You wish to take possession of me. To claim me all for yourself.” He leaned forward, his lips millimetres away from Holmes’. “I stand ready,” he whispered.

Without a thought—to his horror, he found that he was well and truly incapable of forming one—Holmes leaned forward the distance to close the gap between them, and their lips met. It was a soft kiss, almost chaste in nature, and both men’s eyes were wide open, staring into one another’s dilated eyes. Holmes’ hands remained awkwardly behind his back and Watson’s had not moved from their perch atop Holmes’ shoulders.

The sensation was nigh on indescribable to Holmes. In addition to satisfaction of finally acting on long-repressed emotions, it felt as something in his life that had always been awry was somehow righted. But his enjoyment of this gratifying act was short-lived, for the gravity of his actions fell heavily on the shoulders which were now being gripped firmly by Watson. With a heaviness in his chest, Holmes pulled away, shrugging the other man’s hands from their grasp.

“It would seem that gypsy wine is too much for you, old friend.” He had intended his voice to sound hard with resolve, but to his ears, he heard only desperation. “You may wish to pass when offered in the future.”

“Holmes.” Watson’s voice was soft and coaxing.

The detective pretended not to hear, and instead bowed his head formally. “Goodnight, Watson.”

“Holmes!” His voice was more forceful now, and when Holmes looked up to meet Watson’s eyes he saw a desperation that matched his own.

“This is madness, Watson,” he answered, shaking his head. “You are under the influence of a substance that has clouded your judgment. It is a simple explanation.”

“You of all people should know that there is no such thing as a simple explanation,” Watson replied. “Is it simple that I find myself here with you? In a gypsy camp outside of Paris? With grisly death in pursuit? And enough Dutch courage in my system to allow me to finally voice what I have so longed to convey to you?”

Holmes’ eyes widened at Watson’s revelations, yet he shook his head, unable to comprehend their meaning.

“For God’s sake!” Watson shouted, grabbing Holmes by his shirt collar. “Do not make me beg. You know this is what I need. And you need it too. Somewhere within that maddeningly ascetic existence of yours is a burning desire to give in to your baser nature. For once in your selfish life, let yourself be open to the unknown. And let me follow.”

Be it the hedgehog, the wine, the pursuit, or the aura of the gypsy camp, Sherlock Holmes found that he could no longer control his own actions. Despite his good judgment beseeching with him to leave, a stronger, more powerful force kept his feet firmly planted. But He that hath the steerage of my course, direct my sail. The words were the last coherent thought to enter his mind. “Amen,” he whispered before taking Watson’s face between his hands and covering the doctor’s lips with his own.

Holmes was the first to awake. A hazy dawn was on the horizon, and a fog lifted off the river to cover the earth like a blanket. Watson was asleep at his side, his braces and trousers still unfastened and his arm outstretched toward where Holmes lay. Holmes’ attire was likewise undone, and the orange silk scarf was wrapped around his neck. He reached out to trace the contours of Watson’s cool cheek, then quickly recoiled his hand. The night’s transgressions blistered his mind in the approaching daylight. Without a sound, he stole away into the gypsy camp in search of his misplaced possessions and privately grieved the data that flooded into his fully-operative mind.

When Watson appeared at the campfire an hour later, his puzzled expression corroborated Holmes’ earlier hypothesis. When he collapsed on the ground next to Holmes and murmured, “Why did I wake up partially nude in the middle of a forest?” his deduction was confirmed. Given his own experience with memory loss the night before, he had supposed that Watson’s would also fail him. “What on earth happened last night?”

With a cheerless smile, Holmes passed Watson his cup of coffee, and clapped him cordially on the back and replied, “A failed experiment.” He pulled the orange scarf tightly around his shoulders and rose to find Simza. There was work to be done.
fiery_fox2fiery_fox2 on December 23rd, 2011 03:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, lovey!
What on earth were you so hesitant about posting this for?! It's absolutely well-written, and stunningly, achingly, heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Of the both of us, I now claim the right to feel inadequate!
The last paragraph has torn my heart into shreds. Oh, Holmes, how you tried. ::stifles a sob::
I now have the sudden urge to thoroughly beat Watson with his own cane due to his stupidity...
Amazing work, dear.
Kacitodaysgoneby on December 24th, 2011 11:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the compliments! I have never written Sherlock Holmes before, so I was quite nervous.

I imagine that by the time Watson is reunited with Holmes once more, his memory will have returned to him. And their reunion can be properly celebrated.
that which cannot be seen: dear ljtresa_cho on December 23rd, 2011 05:04 pm (UTC)
This was absolutely wonderful, thank you so much for posting it. The emotions are amazing and hurty in all the right ways.
Kaci: film / not in blood but in bondtodaysgoneby on December 25th, 2011 12:01 am (UTC)
I am pleased you like it! Thank you for reading it.
Becky: Sherlock and Watsonewanspotter on December 24th, 2011 08:38 am (UTC)
This story; I can't. Oh, Holmes. Oh, Watson. Gorgeous work.
Kaci: tv / london- that great cesspooltodaysgoneby on December 25th, 2011 12:02 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! This pairing is too much for me. And all of the emotion stuff they gave us in A Game of Shadows was fantastic.
le_froufroule_froufrou on December 26th, 2011 11:47 pm (UTC)
I adore this. The tension between them is so palpable and heartaching. I also love the little canon references you've sprinkled on top - my inner nerd is grinning madly. Lovely work!
Kaci: film / not in blood but in bondtodaysgoneby on December 28th, 2011 12:59 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading! I always like to tie everything I write in to canon as much as possible, so I'm glad it worked for you. Thanks for your comments!
wingsexualwingsexual on December 27th, 2011 12:39 am (UTC)
love you're writing style, you characterized them very well
Kacitodaysgoneby on December 28th, 2011 12:57 am (UTC)
Thank you! I tend to be over descriptive when I write. I'm always worried that it is going to put people off, but when I write, it is my way of working through the characters and their motivations in whatever fandom I'm working in. I'm glad you liked it.
(Anonymous) on December 28th, 2011 06:15 pm (UTC)
It was simply fantastic! Your writing is superb and had my heart pacing the entire time. Alas, it's only on tumblr that I find the best of the best, huh? I'm always a bit hesitant with fanfics because anyone can go on and "write" but this. THIS! My goodness, I can't believe what you would be hesitant about. So glad to have found this. More to come?
Kaci: film / not in blood but in bondtodaysgoneby on December 28th, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC)
Holy zamboni, anon. Thank you for such kind words. I was nervous about making that first foray into Sherlock Holmes, especially the Ritchieverse with such witty dialogue, and I have never written in a Victorian setting before. But I do not anticipate this being my only fic. The recent movie really set my muse alight, and I just read a fictional biography of Holmes and Watson that has me pondering a few things. Thanks again for reading!
vastrea: get that out of my face è_évastrea on December 29th, 2011 09:02 pm (UTC)
I loved it ;*;
For some reason I was STILL hoping for Watson to remember what happened, so the ending broke my little heart XD
Anyway, amazing and gorgeous work, thank you <3
Kaci: film / i see everything. it's my curse.todaysgoneby on December 29th, 2011 11:21 pm (UTC)
Very happy you liked it! I am actually glad for the prompt that Watson not remember. It keeps with the whole angsty Holmes we had throughout this film. I love the idea of Holmes' sacrifice in the end being even greater than Watson realizes. Thank you for reading!
tabby stardust: holmes watson kisstabby_stardust on January 1st, 2012 10:57 pm (UTC)
Guh. This is fantastic. Beautifully written.
Kaci: film / not in blood but in bondtodaysgoneby on January 2nd, 2012 03:43 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it.
Mel: Sherlock Holmes - H&W (close)accordingtomel on January 2nd, 2012 06:03 pm (UTC)
Awww, this is just heart-breaking. And gorgeous. Poor boys... SORT IT OUT, OMG!!! *sobs* But seriously, beautiful, lovely fic here! Just perfect, despite the sad ending. I have hope that these two will eventually work it all out, though! Great job! ♥
Kaci: film / i see everything. it's my curse.todaysgoneby on January 3rd, 2012 12:17 am (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it, despite its depressing ending. Thank you for reading!
cherish4cherish4 on January 6th, 2012 11:09 am (UTC)
Beautifully written and what a heart-breaking ending!
Kaci: tv / london- that great cesspooltodaysgoneby on January 11th, 2012 12:30 am (UTC)
Thank you!
mai2921mai2921 on January 12th, 2012 06:04 pm (UTC)
Wonderful fic, you made it so real by adding little details, and the ending ;-;
Thank you for posting it <3
Kacilovelornity on January 16th, 2012 09:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed the little details. I'm over-observant by nature; I love the little things.
(Deleted comment)
Kaci: holmes / not in blood but in bondtodaysgoneby on January 19th, 2012 04:47 pm (UTC)
Haha, thanks! I can't get over how much I love the relationship between Ritchie's Holmes and Watson. Such chemistry, such emotion. They are my happy place.